The sun may have been out on Feb. 3, but it did little to ease the chill for a group of enthusiastic swimmers.
Last week, staff members of the Lower Kootenay Band (LKB) and the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Child and Family Services (KKCFS) took part in the seventh annual Polar Plunge at the Old Ferry Landing.
“This is a historic thing for many Indigenous communities in the winter, to get into the water as a spiritual cleansing of body and soul,” said Nasukin Jason Louie of LKB.
“When you get into the cold water, it just feels like a natural high. I feel awake and alive.” Participants included Louie himself, LKB councillors Cherie Luke and Chad Luke, registered nurse Gwen Grieves, Interior Health Director of Clinical Operations Walter Felitsyn, members of Creston Fire Rescue, among others.
“It’s really bonding for us as a leadership team,” said Louie. “As a rule, we don’t encourage anyone to do something that we ourselves wouldn’t do, so here we are taking the plunge.”
While talking to the Advance, Louie paused to point out the laughter filling the air from the crowd. The event had brought a feeling of community togetherness.
“This is what reconciliation is all about,” said Louie. “Our community partners and neighbours coming together in the spirit of wellness.”
He wanted to acknowledge the meaningful presence of individuals such as Kootenay River Secondary School Principal Brian Hamm and Town of Creston councillor Denise Dumas.
“Denise learned a lot from her father (former Mayor Ron Toyota) about being a part of things outside of the Town of Creston,” said Louie. “She reached out and asked to be a part of it. It’s just meaningful representation to have here today.”